Well here's a warning we don't get from a governmental agency very often here in Michigan, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a 'no cuddle' alert for pets and their owners.

Related: Fierce and Adorable: The 10 Turtle Species Found in Michigan

It seems these somewhat common household pets have been linked to a recent Salmonella outbreak and the CDC is warning you not to handle these little guys, even if they look otherwise healthy. The agency has even banned the sale of these animals that have shells that are less than four inches as they were linked to a previous outbreak.

Avoid a Michigan Salmonella Outbreak, Don't Cuddle Your Turtle


There have been 26 cases of Salmonella in 11 states linked to contact with pet turtles to date. Many of the culprits spreading the disease are sold illegally via online stores, roadside stands, or flea markets.

Though there have yet to be any reported cases of Salmonella related to turtle contact in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois each have 2 diagnoses. Even healthy-looking turtles can still carry the virus in their feces, so even touching their tank can lead to some very nasty systems according to the CDC:

  • Salmonella makes people sick with diarrhea for 4 to 7 days. But for some people, especially young children and older adults, Salmonella can cause severe illness and hospitalization.

Related: Invasive Species and Illegal Pet Presents Danger to Michigan Agriculture

If you have any pet turtles in your home or have kids who often like to catch and handle wild ones, the CDC recommends the following to avoid contracting and spreading Salmonella:

  1. Always wash your hands right after touching, feeding, or caring for your turtle and after cleaning its supplies.

  2. Clean your turtle tank and supplies while you are outside the house, if possible. If you clean indoors, use a laundry sink or a tub that is only used for your turtle. Don’t clean supplies in the kitchen or other areas where you eat or prepare food.

  3. Don’t kiss or snuggle your turtle. This can spread germs to your mouth and make you sick.


If you're considering purchasing a new shelled pet, keep in mind that buying a turtle whose shell is less than 4 inches is illegal. Avoid mail-order services and purchase them at a reputable pet store or rescue center.

Fierce and Adorable: The 10 Turtle Species of Michigan

Michigan's guide to the 10 turtle species found throughout the state. From the state reptile to the Mitten States largest, this list covers every species from Box to Snapper.

Michigan's Most Savage Creature: The Snapping Turtle

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